Avon Products Drops

Cerner loses key U.K. health bids; JetBlue Air rebounds; plus more of today's stocks in the news

Avon Products (AVP ) sees fourth-quarter U.S. sales to be up in the low-to-mid-single digits, somewhat lower than expected. The cosmetics company sees $1.03 to $1.04 fourth-quarter earnings per share, including a 5 cents tax settlement. S&P reiterates accumulate. Banc of America keeps neutral.

Cerner (CERN ) fell on news that it wasn't selected as an information-technology supplier for two of five regions of the United Kingdom's $106 million public health-services program. While Cerner continues to a be finalist in all three of the remaining regions, it wasn't selected in the Northeast or London regions.

Merrill Lynch upgraded JetBlue Airways (JBLU ) to buy from neutral. Last week the discount carrier lowered the fourth-quarter operating margin guidance. Shares rebounded Monday.

UBS Financial downgraded Health Management (HMA ) to reduce from neutral.

CV Therapeutics (CVTX ) says reviewers for the FDA reportedly expressed concern that an angina drug being developed by CV Therapeutics causes an electrical impulse problem that could result in abnormal heart rhythms.

First Albany upgraded oil and gas producer Penn Virginia (PVA ) to strong buy from buy.

Tontine Associate's Jeff Gendell says the price of iron ore should go up by $4 to $5 per ton in the next two years, which would mean another $80 million in pretax income for Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF ) Gendell sees the stock rising to $60 per share, including the International Steel stake, according to Barron's.

Investment Tech Group (ITG ) says U.S. trading volume was 1.4 billion shares for the month of November, vs. 1.8 billion shares in October and 9 billion shares in November 2002.

Soundview upgraded Microsoft (MSFT ) to outperform from neutral.

Cable & Wireless (CWP ) says as part of a Chapter 11 reorganization plan it will sell its U.S. businesses, or its Internet services units, to a Los Angeles-based private investment group for up to $125 million.

Alkermes (ALKS ) says preliminary results from a Phase III study show patients who received psychosocial therapy plus once-monthly injections of Vivitrex 380 mg. had a 25% reduction in rate of heavy alcohol drinking, vs. a placebo.

JMP Securities upgraded Exult (EXLT ) to strong buy from outperform.

SoundView downgraded Take-Two Interactive (TTWO ) to neutral from outperform.

Terayon Communications (TERN ) reaffirmed the fourth-quarter guidance for a 7 cents to 9 cents loss on revenue of 40 million to 43 million. Teryaon says it's on track to achieve profitability in the second quarter of 2004. Needham maintains strong buy.

Amgen (AMGN ) says interim data from a randomized, multi-center study suggests Aranesp benefits patients suffering from anemia of cancer who are not already receiving chemotherapy.

According to research from Gartner, Nokia (NOK ) lost share of the global handset market in the third quarter, suffering an onslaught from rivals like Siemens and Samsung Electronics.

Motorola (MOT ) will look for acquisitions or partnerships to bolster its communications businessafter deciding to spin-off its semiconductor product division, according to The FInancial Times .

Gartner (IT ) will eliminate about 200 jobs, or 5% of its global workforce. The information-technology research company expects to record a charge of about $28 million to $32 million, some of which will be recognized in the fourth quarter, with the balance to be recognized in the first quarter of 2004.

Alliance Gaming (AGI ) signed a definitive agreement for the sale of Rail City Casino to Sands Regent. The terms are $35 million in cash, and $3 million of subordinated debt.

Genentech (DNA ) says a Phase III randomized study evaluating Rituxan in combination with chemotherapy as a front-line treatment for aggressive lymphoma has met its targets earlier than expected.

Novartis (NVS ) says new data released early from a Canadian-led international breast cancer trial showed the reduction of breast cancer recurrence by almost half.

Alvarion (ALVR ) says the company's broadband solutions were selected by China Telecom for deployment in four Chinese provinces.

Valspar (VAL ) says president and COO John M. Ballbach will leave the company for personal reasons. Richard M. Rompala, chairman and CEO, will assume Ballbach's responsibilities.

SanDisk (SNDK ) sees 2003 revenue exceeding $1 billion, up from its September projection of $950 million.

Aetna (AET ) set a 10 million share buyback, which it says will not exceed the aggregate purchase price of $750 million.

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